Volunteer’s name: Djihed Hammada
Project: Nghia Tan primary school (teaching French)
Duration: 6 months
They say travel changes you but I don’t believe it does. They say travel makes you richer but I’m still waiting for the money deposit in my account...
What travel gives you is an opportunity of discovery, encounters and new perspectives. More places, more people and even more different ways of living in this world.
I am writing this sitting in a coffee in Hanoi and I cannot believe its already time to go. I have traveled to many countries before but I never felt complete satisfaction from most of these adventures. Time often runs against you and you feel like a few weeks is never enough to really get into the culture and the way of living. When I decided to come to Vietnam, I was looking for an enhanced travel experience. Something that will allow me to be able to feel this country in all aspects of its lifestyle. I wanted to know how the Vietnamese people eat, drink, laugh, talk and sleep! That’s when the VPV opportunity came and I knew it was exactly what I wanted.
And what a run it was!
I still remember my first days. My first outings on a Grab bike to the Old Quarter, feeling completely intimidated by this chaotic yet so vibrant and alive city of Hanoi. As a Canadian, It was like I just landed on another planet, something very different from anything I’ve seen before. But Hanoi is also a city that you can quickly get used to. The transportation on bikes, the street food everywhere (Living the banh mi life!) and the very accessible telecommunications (Data plans of 2 GB per day at less than 5$ per month) are some of the aspects that helped a lot during the first days.
Obviously, the language barrier is still something that can be overwhelming and if you’re a Westerner, Vietnamese is not easy at all. I always enjoyed learning new languages and made it my responsibility to learn a few words and sentences to go around and be able to function. Learning how to count to 10, say Hello, Thank you and How much was a good start for me as it really opened doors and made all my encounters much more comfortable. Through my work and social experience, I discovered welcoming and funny people, with no fear of anything in their eyes and always up for a good time…and a good meal!
Vietnam has such a rich and deep culture, it is almost impossible to get bored here. From all the weekend trips, the museums you can visit on rainy days and the hundreds of cafes, restaurants and Bia Hoi you can spend your time at, there is never a dull moment!
And all these 6 months would have not been as comfortable and enjoyable without the support from the VPV staff. In my personal experience, they did everything to make me feel at home and help me with any question or request that I had and I’m sure they will do the same for you!
Finally, while I sip the last drops of my Ca Phe Sua, if I can leave you with one piece of advice, it would be to make this experience or any other your own. Go out, explore the city, talk to the people and eat the food. Do it your way, live it your way.
Xin Cam On Viet Nam!